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Carving a niche in ‘Vintage Wear’ through non-vintage thinking

    The young entrepreneur from Tirupur, Tamil Nadu spotted a big opportunity in the luxurious and trendy ‘vintage wear.’ What they started with twenty-five workers, fifteen second hand sewing machines and a 1000 sq. ft of space, 25 Lakh Rupees as revenue for the first year when they started Morpho Knitwear; in 2019 the company has transformed into a prominent exporter specializing in ‘Vintage Wear’. The company now has 60,000 sq. ft work area, 250 machines and is turning around 25 Crore of revenue every year. The success can be attributed to a clear vision and business acumen to spot the right opportunity, layer it over solid values and stay focussed on performance.

    Morpho Knitwear is a company based out of Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, focussed on garment and apparel export in knitwear. What is unique about this company from a business point of view is that they are focussed on ‘Vintage Wear’ for men and children wear which is a growing and a niche market.

    Introduction and Early Journey:

    P. Prabhu, MD of the company along with his cousin Balachandran started this venture in 2009 with twenty-five workers in a small 1000 sq. ft space with fifteen old sewing machines. The first year the company netted revenues of 25 Lakhs. While that kick start happened by doing back orders for others, today Morpho knitwear is specialized in knitted garment exports with a capacity of 12,000 pieces per day.

    Prabhu.P, M.D- Morpho Knitwear

    Mr. Prabhu hails from a business family specializing in rice mills. While the business background helped understand the nuances, garment business is a quite different sector. Prabhu knew that he requires something more and so enrolled in a marketing management course in London that helped him understand the international market.

    Morpho Knitwear facility at Tirupur

    Vintage Garments – USP of Morpho.

    Morpho Knitwear is known for its vintage look garments. They are also styled in a way that the appearance, fabric texture and designs appear vintage. To get the vintage feel, these fabrics are prewashed with a bio-wash and other processes such as tie-dye, stone wash, optic wash, cold pigment dye and acid wash. As the vintage wear was becoming popular, more as a response to modern and quirky, people who opt for vintage keep that as a lifestyle choice. Some clients look for sustainable as well as vintage garments, which the company manufactures for specific requirements.

    As a supplier to Walt Disney and to many other responsible brands, Morpho is certified for SA 8000 and MCS (minimum compliance standard for Disney). The MCS looks for solid practices in no child labour, no involuntary labour, non-discrimination, association health and safety, sub-contracting.

    Turnaround Time

    While the initial two three years was catering to the back orders, it was in 2012, that the company bagged an international order for three thousand pieces per style. Today Morpho is one-stop apparel & garment manufacturer for knitted garments and can produce 60,000 pieces per style. FY 2021 marked a revenue of twenty-five crore.

    Environmental Values – Focus on “Green Building” Theme

    The Morpho facility was designed and built according to the green building recommendations, be it for lighting and ventilation. The production facility is designed for the line production system, which saves the total energy per piece produced. It is about 10% more efficient than the bundle production system. The current sewing machines, imported from Singapore, are all energy efficient. The company keeps a close tab on the supply chain and only sources from certified providers, who are compliant for agreed upon norms.

    Employees and Communities: The Social values – Women Empowerment as core value

    Almost 70% of the employees are women, who work in the modern facility at Tirupur. As about 60% are migrants they live in a hostel facility. The hostel facility has free meals, and a transport facility from hostels to the workplace. The workplace also has a qualified nurse to take care of any medical emergencies.

    Dining area for employees at the facility

    Morpho Knitwear is SA 8000 certified, ensuring that all the employees are paid a minimum wage. Mr. Prabhu mentions about his association with PAN IIT ALUMNI REACH FOR INDIA (PARFI) FOUNDATION, a not-for-profit social enterprise, working for the cause of the underprivileged. PARFI collaborates with Jharkhand Government for an initiative to train and provide employment for rural women co partnering with other companies. Morpho has tied up with PARFI for training, skills development and post-employment hand holding. Once employed, PARFI also lends a hand in taking care of the emotional well-being of these women trainees. They also conduct checks at the workplaces and hostel facilities for the well-being of the trainees. Morpho encourages such checks and audits from PARFI to ensure that any issue is brought to the notice of the management.

    Women employees at work in Morpho facility

    The way forward: The Journey ahead

    Summing the journey of Morpho, Prabhu mentions that it is the love and affection for the fashion industry that Morpho was set up. Now it is with the same love and affection we are launching our new brand called “HOODZ – The Irresistible Wear, for the discerning Indian vintage garment seeker”.

    Considering the growing interest from the domestic market and rising demand from global, Prabhu intends to work on a challenging goal of touching a revenue of one hundred Crores in next five year.

    Interviewed and written by: Dr. Shashi K and Abija Nambiar, SAGE Sustainability